Continuing the recap on the run-up to Marvel’s new Secret Wars, as seen in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers runs, if at least for the sake of Jimmy Impossible.
As ever, SPOILERS behind the cut.
Captain America Remembers
Possibly as a result of the Original Sin story arc, or possibly because he sorta remembered stuff in a dream once before, Captain America wakes up with complete knowledge that the Illuminati have reformed, are probably building planet-destroying weapons (actually, they are), and erased his memory.
So, Cap goes off to get some back-up to confront Tony with. First he grabs Black Widow and Hawkeye. They meet Thor outside Stark’s closed workshop. Thor brought Hyperion and Star Brand, against Cap’s initial wishes, but Cap figures he’ll need the muscle. Busting into the lab, Cap confronts Tony with the knowledge that one of the reasons the main Avengers team is so darn big is so they could handle any big threats while the Illuminati worked out the whole “Incursions” thing. Seeing no way out, Tony activates the various armors lying around and a scuffle occurs.
Then the shattered Time Gem reforms and blasts all present into the future. The next few issues of Avengers show an increasingly smaller group going forward in time, as the Time Gem keeps reforming and shattering. At certain intervals, someone will drop off and fall backwards through time, going through accelerated aging until the traveler ends up back at the moment they all left.
- 48 years after “The Betrayal”: The group is met by future Avengers, including older versions of Hawkeye and Hyperion. Tony initially takes this as a good sign that the Illuminati will succeed until old Hawkeye hits him with an arrow, pops him one, and gives him a means to go back to the present alone. Iron Man takes it. Old Clint whispers some advise to Steve. The Time Gem reforms. Young Hawkeye falls back to the present.
- 422 years after “The Betrayal”: The remaining Avengers are quickly subdued by other future Avengers. Steve is taken away by his successor and he learns these Avengers were built in memory of the original by the planet’s current ruler, Ultron. A bomb is placed inside Steve, but the Black Widow robot actually assists the Avengers’s escape with the promise of future survival. It seems these Ultrons are in some sort of war with machines in the future and the bomb in Steve will take care of them. The Time Gem reforms. Thor and Hyperion fall back to the present.
- 5045 years after “The Betrayal”: Arriving in some kind of arboreal zone, Steve, Widow, and Star Brand encounter immortal Franklin Richards. Franklin reveals his time sent the rogue planet back in time to act as a power source when needed. Flying around in a weird space ship that appears to be a tree and a hunk of land, Franklin explains that the Illuminati will fail and the last Incursion will take place while Steve and Tony beat the crap out of each other. Franklin advises against doing as old Hawkeye suggested, but also knows Steve will follow that advice anyway. He also promises to take care of Ultron Widow. The Time Gem reforms. Black Widow and Star Brand fall back to the present. Steve alone goes forward. The tree-ship says, “I am Groot.”
- 51,028 years after “The Betrayal”: Once again, Steve gets nabbed by future Avengers. These are also mechanical but also a bit holographic. They’re going to turn him into one of them when the Ultrons’ bomb goes off and wrecks the place. The Time Gem reforms. Steve starts to fall back to the present when he’s grabbed by what looks like Iron Man.
- Fractured Temporal Space: Well, it wasn’t Iron Man. It was Iron Lad, of the Young Avengers, whose hanging out in this timeless zone with his older selves, Kang and Immortus. The three manage to trap the shattered Time Gem in suspended animation to stop Steve from zapping all over, and maybe change the past so Steve doesn’t prevent Tony from stopping the Incursions, as Franklin more or less said he would. Steve then remembers old Hawkeye’s advice and fights back, removing the Time Gem from suspended animation, and falling back to his own time and place.
The Illuminati vs. The Great Society
Back in the present, Black Panther is using the bridge to observe Earth-4,290,001. That Earth is protected by a superteam called the Great Society. Their members are basically Silver Age DC heroes. They are the Rider (Batman), the Jovian (Martian Manhunter), Boundless (the Flash), Doctor Spectrum (Green Lantern), the Norn (Dr. Fate), and Sun God (Superman). Sun God is giving the standard speech for New Avengers, only his starts by saying “Everything lives.” And they mean that. Their Earth has survived three Incursions so far. They’re going to save lives.
They do so with an Incursion of Mapmakers hitting their world. The Norn uses a Black Priest helm to destroy the dead world while Sun God annihilates a couple Mapmakers. Namor asks T’Challa about this world, and the Panther says this isn’t the past he’s watching, it’s the future; the Illuminati will be going there themselves in two hours time.
The Incursion happens. The Illuminati cross over to the other Earth, with new member the Hulk, and attempt to find out how the Society survived so many Incursions. The Society says they lost their version of the Infinity Gems, and there was one Incursion they don’t want to talk about, but because they’re really good guys, they don’t want to blow up either world. The discussion isn’t really going too well, when Namor tosses a trident and impales the Rider. Sun God responds by knocking out Beast and Reed Richards pretty much immediately and a fight breaks out. Dr. Spectrum flies off to Earth-616 where the Illuminati left their bomb, Black Bolt in pursuit.
Back on Earth-616, Maximus is getting chummy with Black Swan. He points out this time, she didn’t get heroes, she got kings. Kings think differently. Maximus says he’d personally make a good king. Then he uses some gadget to pierce Thane’s cube and brings Corvus Glaive back to life inside the cube.
The fight meanwhile is going poorly for the Illuminati. Namor can’t quite pin down a telepathic shapeshifter like the Jovian. Iron Man’s armor is stripped off by the speedster Boundless. Sun God knocks the enraged Hulk unconscious.
Then Dr. Strange figures out the Norn. The Norn isn’t a sorcerer. He’s a collector of arcane treasures. Strange is really frustrated by how little he’s contributed, how much he’s been pushed around by folks like Ebony Maw, and how the demons wouldn’t buy his soul. So, he lashes out. He strips the Norn of his relics, leaving him powerless. Then he calls up a demon that sucks the life out of most of the Great Society. Sun God is too powerful, but is left a withered husk. Dr. Spectrum was knocked out or killed by Black Bolt on 616. I don’t know yet. Considering there was an Incursion that the Society didn’t want to talk about, I think there was some secret about them she could reveal at some point. We’ll see.
Now victorious because of Dr. Strange, the Illuminati return home. Sun God turns down an offer to go with them. Once back on Earth, and with their planet-destroying bomb placed, they just need to pull the trigger. And…they realize they can’t. It’s wrong. T’Challa comes closest, with the ghosts of his ancestors pushing him to do so, but he won’t, and the ghosts, led by his father, abandon him.
Then Namor grabs the trigger device and sets off the bomb, destroying the Society’s Earth.
The Panther attacks Namor immediately. He actually seems to be winning. Namor even goes so far as to confess he set the Black Order on Wakanda, and every moment he lets Wakanda live is a mercy from him, because he’s that kind of jerk. You know, when the Hulk is the voice of reason to stop a fight, it really is going wrong. Namor flies off, and the Illuminati scatter, presumably to wait for the destruction of the world in the next Incursion.
Captain America is back in the present
Back in his proper time, Steve gathers the rest of the Avengers who went through time with him and declares the Illuminati to be Public Enemy #1 and the Avengers need to bring them in.
The shattered Illuminati reform again
Knowing of an immanent Incursion, the former Illuminati go off to meet their end in their own way. Bruce Banner alone seems to be at peace, grabbing a beer at the site of the gamma bomb explosion and waiting for the end of the monster to finally occur. Beast confesses what he’s done to his younger (and now angry) self. Black Panther has a last night with Storm. Black Bolt screams impotently on the moon with only Lockjaw for company. Dr. Strange asks Wong if he’s a good man. Wong says no, so Strange goes to study the Black Priest helmet he swiped from the Norn. Reed Richards and his wife go to Latveria so he can see his daughter. After his usual posturing, Doom asks Sue if she’s as worried about Reed’s weird behavior as he is. Sue says she is. Valaria asks her father what he’s done.
Then the Incursion doesn’t happen.
Confused, the Illuminati gather, aside from Dr. Strange who teleports somewhere else. No one knows why the Incursion failed to happen, when someone notices Namor is still missing.
Why was Namor missing? We next see him giving his version of the “Everything dies” speech, only his goes on how he refuses to go down without a fight. So, he gathered a new Cabal, made up of Black Swan, Maximus, Terrax, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, and Thanos. Maybe the Illuminati won’t destroy worlds at an Incursion, but the Cabal has no such qualms.
The end game will begin.
In two weeks, the story jumps ahead a few months and the whole thing wraps up.
I can’t do it any sooner since the last issue before Secret Wars won’t be out until then.